I used to live in the country and was very interested in the flora and fauna around me. My very first poem was about a daffodil, I looked at them growing and thought “what would they feel like when they were cut?”. I then looked at the old oak tree and wondered what it had seen in its long, long life, hence the poem below about the Oak Tree.
Ye Old Oak Tree
Here I’ve stood nigh on 300 years,
and much I know of joy and tears.
As I stand in my ancient glory,
I think it’s time I told my story,
In the 18th century when I was young,
many a happy song was sung.
Beneath my boughs they would stand and sing,
to welcome in the new born Spring.
They would erect a maypole gay,
on the very first day of May.
From dawn to dusk the young would dance,
maidens tempting boys with a glance.
In this century many a tree,
a chair or table was cut down to be.
But as I was young, they wanted me not,
I was left to grow on this self-same spot.
Life was happy then.
In the 19th century passed by me,
many a bejewelled Lord and Lady.
Highwaymen would hide in my branches,
to rob the rich and take their chances.
Young urchins would run in the fields by day,
though ragged and hungry with laughter they’d play.
Come evening young lovers would hide neath my leaves,
midst giggles he would whisper lies she believed.
Many more trees were cut down to be,
proud hearts of oak in the Royal Navy.
Still for some reason they left me be,
perhaps they thought me an unworthy tree.
Life was exciting then.
In the 20th century, oh woe is me,
a time of change I would rather not see.
Houses and factories, bombs, war and strife,
nobody now seems happy with their life.
Green fields vanished, cities in their place,
they seem to be filled with violence and hate.
Trees all destroyed to clear land for buildings,
flats and bases surrounded by railings.
Cars and trains, rockets and planes,
nuclear missiles to end man’s pains.
Life is frightening now!! Jeanette Comfort (written in 1986)
Cover photo by Laurie Campbell